Posted: 27 February 2018 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  1609
Joined  2007-02-14

The subject of biscuits has come up on another forum, one with a good mix of right and left Pondians. It got me wondering, which is the original definition and when did they diverge?

Posted: 27 February 2018 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  1328
Joined  2007-03-01

Well, of course the original definition was “twice-baked (bis cuit) cake of unleavened bread, too dry to go stale or mouldy, suitable for provisioning ships, and armies on campaign”. We now think of this as a nautical item, as in ship’s biscuit, but for centuries it was a military ration item too.

Posted: 27 February 2018 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  80
Joined  2015-05-27

If memory serves, what we in the US now call biscuits, crackers, and cookies were all called biscuits. So both left and right-pondian usages were part of the original definition. My grandparents, born at the end of the 19th century, still usually called crackers biscuits into the 1970s although youngsters like me were confused. The now defunct Uneeda Biscuit, made by the National Biscuit Company/Nabisco, was always a staple in her pantry and the product survived into the 21st century. Perhaps someone with OED access can pin down some actual dates for the divergence of usage and the and when cookie and cracker took over left of the pond.

Posted: 27 February 2018 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  6767
Joined  2007-01-03

The OED entry is an old one, and it lumps all these senses and regional variations into one definition and collection of citations, so you can’t pull the meanings apart by looking at the OED.